As many of you know, I recently married a wonderful man and moved from 8 hours away to be with him here. I left the familiarity of a city and people that I deeply loved that knew and cared for me well to become the new girl in town. Outside of my husband, the majority of my day is spent in surface conversations trying to quickly learn the basics of a person in hope that the depth and ease in a relationship with them comes quicker. When I am in a large group, I am likely quietly observing how people interact and trying to learn the unspoken norms of the group while desperately desiring to be invited in to it. There are so many things I did not need to do when I was in the comfort of my old community that are now a part of my every day. Being the new girl, especially in social settings, can be exhausting.
But I do not write this to gain pity. While a lot of days are draining, my transition has been really smooth and I feel cared for by many people. There is a simple need for time for relationships to grow and I know I must patiently wait and savor the time where God is everything to me. There is no relationship close enough to tempt me or distract me from keeping Him as the first relationship in my life and for that, I have a reason to rejoice. However, this time has reminded me of the importance of having my eyes open, looking for the new faces, and welcoming them. Hebrews 13:2 says “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” That is my desire for this post—to encourage you to seek the opportunity to welcome a stranger.
There are lots of reasons why we may not welcome someone new but often I think it is rooted in a love of ourselves. We love our comfort. We want to be encouraged. We long to talk and be understood. We desire to feel known by others and this most naturally happens in relationships with people who we know well—not the new person. So we are drawn to sit by our close friends at events, call them to hang out, think of them on birthdays and encourage them often. This is SO good too! All through scripture we are commanded to love and care for one another. In Acts we see how a community of close believers living life together drew others into the church. Like all things in life though, we need balance. Jesus had his disciples who were closest to Him and He certainly could have remained with them and only taught them. He does not though. He traveled and shared Himself with a multitude of new people while bringing the disciples along.
It takes a conscious effort to go against the norm of being content in relationships already established and seek to welcome someone else. It is a risk to love someone you do not know and temporarily miss out on the comfort of experiencing our close friends. Yet Jesus daily surrendered His life so we could experience the richness of a relationship with Him. 1 John 4:11-12 says, “Dear friend, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” Do you love one another or only those who love you? Certainly it can be awkward for some time in meeting someone new, but I pray for the strength to step out of our comfort to welcome others.